A STORY by SHELDON BIRNIE

BUG CLUB IS MY BUSINESS...


The other day, in the bath, my boy told me that his buddies had a bug club at school. They catch bugs, he said. Grasshoppers and beetles and stuff. It’s pretty cool. But I got fired.


Fired from bug club? For real? What for?


Seems my boy had stepped on a bug. Killed it dead. If killing were the bug club’s business, well, business would have been booming! But it seems it was a big no-no with this bug club, anyway.


It’s not fair, he complained bitterly. Buddy (the acting president of Bug Club, apparently) stepped on a bug too. But Buddy didn’t get fired.


Seems like since Buddy started the bug club in the first place, he made the rules. Not exactly fair, sure. But it made sense. That’s the way the world works, pal.


You should make your own bug club, I suggested. Just go for it, eh?


But it wouldn’t be as good as theirs, the boy replied.


But it could be, I offered. It could be even better.


Better?


You betcha, bud. See, once upon a time, there was another young boy, fueled by spite and disappointment, whose situation was not unlike your own.


Really? What’s his name?


The boy’s name, I replied, was Dave Mustaine.


My son is familiar with Metallica, musically, if not their extended back story. These past months, it has been a steady stream of Bay Area bangers around our house. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Master of Puppets. Enter Sandman. Sad But True. Seek & Destroy.


Dave used to be in Metallica, I told my son. Way back in the day. He played a bunch of shows. Even wrote some tunes with James and Lars. The Four Horsemen. Metal Militia. Ride the Lightning. Bangers. But right before they made Kill ‘Em All, they fired him. Kicked him out. Finito, bambino.


Dave was a wild man, addicted to chaos, I said, leaving out the plethora of other addictions Dave harbored over the years. He broke the rules.


Much like the boy’s bug club situaish, Dave hadn’t really done anything the other guys in the gang hadn’t also done. But Dave was the odd man out, whether he’d earned it or not. It was a day of reckoning and punishment, James and Lars figured, was due.


What’d Dave do?


Well, Dave was steamed. Big time. He decided to make his own band, and make it heavier and meaner and deadlier than Metallica.


Wow.


And how, I laughed.


What’d Dave call the band?


Megadeth. Deadly, hey?


Super deadly. Then what happened?


Well, buddy, Dave got cranking and he never really stopped. Killing Is My Business. Peace Sells. Rust in Peace. Solid thrash metal, baby. And Megadeth is still ripping today.


The bathwater tepid, the boy climbed out and toweled off. While he pulled his Storm Trooper jammies on, I put Countdown to Extinction on the tape player to give a quick little listen before tucking the boy in behind the black curtains. Foreclosure of a Dream came on. Not my top Megadeth tune, but you play the hand you’re dealt.


But is Megadeth better than Metallica? The boy asked after a while. Heavier? Meaner? Deadlier?


While I left it unsaid that spite may not be the healthiest motivator when making your way through this mess we call life, there are lessons Mustaine’s long and winding road to establishing himself as a bona fide Titan of Metal can teach a young lad who has been spurned by his classmates.


Oh they were big, I admitted, though Megadeth never quite hit it as big as Metallica. They weren’t everybody’s bag. A little too abrasive, for some. But plenty of bangers’ embrace their body of work. Big time.


Dave did his own thing and did it all his own way, I remind the boy. Heavier. Meaner. Pretty deadly if you ask me. And he took no prisoners.


Pretty deadly, the boy agreed. Mega deadly.

 

Sheldon Birnie is a writer, dad, and beer league hockey player from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who can be found online @badguybirnie.